S: J105
H: K1087
D: KQ8
C: 753
S: 73
H: J92
D: A1092
C: A1064
S: Q82
H: A43
D: 53
C: KQJ92
S: AK964
H: Q65
D: J764
C: 8
All Pass
This week's hand is just a report; I was not even near the table. Tony Forrester, Andy Robson, Marcello Branco, and Gabriel Chagas put forth a challenge that they could beat any other team in the world. This is quite possibly true, but they added the restriction that they would play only natural methods, while their opponents were welcome to play anything they choose. The idea was a resurrection of the old ``Scientists vs. Naturalists'' competition, this time funded by a wealthy European sponsor.

The match was quite close, though the Scientists pulled away at the end. Reporters claim that bidding methods were not a significant portion of the difference between the teams, but familiarity with methods definitely was. The naturalists had not practiced much with their system and were in enough unfamiliar spots that they had some troubles. In the upcoming matches, hopefully that will have been rectified.

Everybody got their money's worth just via this hand. Robson reached 4S: after a Precisionish 2C: (long clubs, limited high cards) opening bid. The defense began with two rounds of clubs, Robson ruffing. With two Aces to knock out and only one long trump left, Robson was in danger of losing control of the hand, so he could not afford to draw trumps before setting up his side suits. Playing side suits, however, might expose him to a ruff, but he found a brilliant solution. He led the D:J at trick three. He knew that the opponents would be giving count signals, so he could not hope to disguise his diamond holding by one card, but he could disguise it by two cards. Meckstroth fell for it, ducking the diamond, assuming that it was doubleton. Meckstroth won the second diamond, and, still believing that partner had four diamonds, continued clubs. Robson still needed to get his heart tricks before drawing trumps, so he started setting up hearts by leading a small one from his hand. Meckstroth played the Jack, knowing that it was coming down anyway, since he had the Nine, and Rodwell let the King hold in dummy. Two rounds of trumps ought to be safe now, so Robson led the small trump off dummy and finessed the Nine successfully. When he cashed the Ace, Rodwell dropped the Queen. This is an example of playing the card you are known to hold, good general practice, and it had a devastating effect on this hand. Robson had to continue hearts next because he only had one trump left in each hand, so he played the Queen, which held and continued with a third heart to Rodwell's Ace. This left the following position:

S: J
H: K
D: K
C: ---
S: ---
H: ---
D: 109
C: 6
S: 8
H: ---
D: ---
C: Q2
S: K
H: ---
D: 64
C: ---
Rodwell exited with his club, Robson pitching a diamond and ruffing in dummy. The hand can be made now by leading the H:K from dummy, and certainly would have if Rodwell had not dropped his trump Queen, since he would be marked with the card. Robson thought that Meckstroth had the S: 8, though, so he thought that it was safe to cash a diamond, rather than give him a trump promotion by leading a heart. As you can see, this gives Rodwell his diamond ruff after all. Down one. Very nicely played by all.
Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith